Kaizen, the art of small constant improvements compounding over time
We all want the quick success, the short-cut or the path of least resistance to get what we want.
Overnight abs, a profitable business in 2 weeks or less...
Unless you win the lottery your life isn't going to improve in a split second.
It takes time, and if you really want it you've got to grind.
“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.” — John Wooden
What Is Kaizen?
Kaizen is the Japanese term for improvement. Initially focused on just business and progress in the workplace Kaizen now applies to all fields, activities and processes.
Instead of making massive leaps and bounds forward the Kaizen method is based around small, daily improvements that day after day make a big difference.
Instead of trying to improve your life 100% immediately, focus on improving your life 1% each day.
Train a little bit harder, learn a little bit more, work a little bit harder.
Kaizen is a long term strategy as the compounding affect works wonders over time.
Kaizen Vs. Radical Change
You're probably thinking "Improving by 1% a day? That'll take forever to get anywhere!"
I used to think the same way, as I said earlier... we're impatient, it's in human nature. We want success now, we want confirmation now and we want fulfilment now.
The problem with radical change is that it's rarely sustainable... let's take a look at a text book example:
New Years Resolutions
How often have you seen someone follow through with all of their New Years Resolutions? I've seen very few - and this is because the level of willpower and sustainability for the radical change is near impossible. To go from eating fast food every day and performing little to no exercise on December 31st to expecting to go to the gym daily and eat nothing but healthy foods as of January 1st is a radical change. An individual may sustain this resolution for a few days, a week or perhaps a month, but 99 times out of 100 they'll crumble. They'll give in and they'll end up back at square one - overweight, lethargic and unhappy.
Their goal of losing 30lbs and being able to run consistently for 4 miles within 12 months certainly was attainable, they simply undertook the wrong process to achieve it.
The Kaizen approach to this resolution would be far more likely to succeed as it's not as mentally taxing on the individual.
Eliminate one bad meal per day, walk a little bit further each day.
1% today, 1% tomorrow, 1% the day after.
A month later they've got a clean diet and are in the gym 4 days a week.
Don't overestimate your willpower and try and go all in at once.
SUCCESS IS A PROCESS, NOT AN EVENT
The gym, dieting and transforming my physique in general taught me that Kaizen gets results.
Increasing my squat from 225lbs to 355lbs wasn't the event of me deciding to add 130lbs to the barbell on a particular leg day. This monumental increase in my squat was the result of adding an additional 5lbs to the barbell each week and grinding through the squats.
1% here and 1% there. It compounds quickly.
How To Utilize Kaizen To Get What You Want
In order to get what you want you need to know what you want. Don't drift through life aimlessly... set goals.
I want to make $100,000
I want to lose 50lbs of fat
I want to perform 10 strict muscle-ups
I want to complete a 7 minute lap of the Nurburgring
These are all big, big goals.
Attainable by both you or I nonetheless.
Big goals are overwhelming when tackled as a whole.
When we break them down they become easy.
Making $100,000 a year is $8,333 a month
Making $8,333 a month is $268 a day.
$268 a day is $11 per hour.
Losing 50lbs in a year is only 4lbs per month.
Losing 4lbs per month is 1lb per week.
Muscle-up form is complicated to get right, but once you've mastered one you will reach your goal WITHIN a year if you're able to add one rep per month!
Do The Daily
You've decided what you want, now break it down into yearly/monthly/weekly/daily modules.
Then do the daily. Make that small step of progress each day, just do the daily and it'll compound into your big audacious goal over time.
Radical change is exhausting, unsustainable and can actually be slower than the 1% Kaizen method (see diagram above).
How I'm Using Kaizen In 2016
At the start of this year I set myself a number of goals for this year, including...
I will write and publish 100 new articles
That's 2 articles per week.
I allocate time to sit down and write every day, ensuring I'm happy with the quality and information I've written to publish at least twice per week.
I will squat 400lbs
That's an additional 1lb on the barbell each leg day.
I will invest $100,000 into an index fund
$8,333 per month.
$1,923 per week.
That's $273 per day.
I'm Doing The Daily
I push myself both physically and mentally, every single day to edge closer to these 3 goals.
Whatever it takes, my head hits the pillow every evening, sometimes early, sometimes late... regardless of the time I know I'm at least one step closer to achieving that which I set out to do this year.
“Little strokes fell great oaks.” – Benjamin Franklin
What's Your Take On Kaizen? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!